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Rebuilding Careers Information and Guidance

18 July 2000 Speech Notes

Rebuilding Careers Information and Guidance as a public service

Address to the Career Services Branch-based practitioners. Central Institute of Technology, Upper Hutt.


I am delighted to be here with you this morning, and to have the honour and the privilege of opening your Conference on the occasion of this, the 10th anniversary of your creation.

In reflecting on what it is that you are about I sense that it comes down to assisting people to 'get a life'. You really are about assisting people to 'get a life' or perhaps more correctly to realise their full potential as productive members of our community.

Another way of putting this, although it is somewhat less accessible, is that you are in the business of realising human capability.

Right across my portfolios I use a simple formula to capture the thrust of the Government's policy agenda – that formula is:

Capacity + opportunity = human capability

You are about assisting people to develop their individual capacities, whether by way of information gathering or decision-making frameworks, in order that they might be better placed to take up opportunities, whether in education and training, or in paid or unpaid work.

Careers practice involves lifting the capacity of individuals – providing them with the skills and knowledge to make considered judgements and choices regarding learning and employment.

It involves matching capacity with opportunity – ensuring that individuals have accurate and neutral information about the markets in which they will exercise choices, whether the market is one for the provision of learning, or whether the market is the labour market.

I have made no secret of the fact that I think that there has been a worrying run-down in the public sector capacity and capability and much of what I will have to say today is about lifting both.

But I think it is vitally important to continually emphasise that provision of careers information and guidance is something that must happen right across the life cycle – it is not just about engaging with students in schools, polytechnics, or universities. We no longer have jobs for life, and that means that we will all need information and guidance at varying points in our lives.

Manifesto commitments and policy initiatives

I want to talk to you today about the role of Career Services, and about the plans that the Government has for the Service, and for Careers Information and Guidance more generally.

Before the last election we signalled our intentions very clearly. Those of you familiar with the Labour Party Policy document, "21st Century Skills" will recall the commitment we made prior to the last election,

"to ensuring that New Zealanders have access to information and advice which will assist them to plan their learning and employment careers".

We made five further specific commitments in "21st century Skills":

 To expand the Careers Service into a Learning and Careers Service, and require it to provide a neutral careers information service to schools, job seeker and employers;

 To require schools to provide comprehensive learning and career planning and advisory services starting with course planning in Year 10 (Form 4) and individual career/future focus interviews with all students in Year 11 (Form 5), to develop agreed career and training paths for students. Planning will be then followed up in Years 12 and 13.

 To require all tertiary institutions to have charter statements and corporate plans setting out their commitment to the provision of career planning and advice available to students

 To review the effectiveness of career advice for Maori, Pacific Islands and women students

 To work towards the objective of schools having a career plan for each of the students when they leave school

Engaging with you today provides an opportunity to rehearse the detail of that policy again, and to talk about your important contribution to realising that policy in practice as sound and principled public policy.

The policy is an evolutionary, not a revolutionary one. To use a gardening analogy, I am more than happy to pull the weeds out of the garden and throw them in the dump.

And I am more than happy to closely inspect the plants in the garden and remove anything in the environment that might be hampering their growth.

But I am not going to be in the business of pulling up otherwise totally healthy plants simply to inspect the roots. It is the harvest that interests me.

I should draw that analogy to a close – some might be offended if I compare your organisation to a vegetable that has, at times, struggled in the face of some neglect from individuals in my profession, although not of my political persuasion, tasked with the gardening.

I hope that through the actions of the Government to date that you have a sense that the period of neglect is over.

Budget 2000 and Careers Information and Guidance – the Report Card

For my part I am pleased with the progress that we have made, and you are now aware of these decisions and their impact on your work. At the same time I am conscious that there is still more to do.

Current role of branches in best practice

I now want to focus on a few key roles that you, as branch-based career practitioners’ play in increasing the awareness, access and capacity to deliver career services to all New Zealanders.

Provision of a face to face service is a key method of delivery neatly complementing Internet access via KiwiCareers and central telephone access via CareerPoint. Each method will at different times and for different people, provide the most appropriate form of service.

Your role in strengthening the careers industry is highlighted by your central involvement in CPANZ and willingness to share your knowledge of the industry with other career professionals. This has been further enhanced by Career Services recently receiving accreditation to provide training in career industry standards.

The piloting of the inter-active careers resource “The Real Game” which I had the pleasure to see in action, as well as your work with Manukau youth for Skill NZ are excellent examples of pioneering work which you are undertaking.

And finally your work with Department of Work and Income and ACC plays an essential supporting role in Government’s policy for all New Zealanders to have access to information and advice which will assist them to plan their learning and employment careers.

The challenge:

My ambition for Career Services is that it continues to develop its capacity to the point where it is acknowledged, domestically, and internationally as being one of the benchmarks against which others assess themselves.

The challenge is clear:

We need to create the awareness among all New Zealanders about the value of career planning.

Quality career decision making is central to a productive labour market especially with labour market diversity, and increasing education and training choices.

There is a particular need to raise the awareness of career information, advice and guidance among Maori and Pacific people.

My colleague Trevor Mallard and I will shortly be taking a paper to the Cabinet Committee on Closing the Gaps recommending initiatives to improve the effectiveness of careers advice to Maori and Pacific peoples.

Improving the effectiveness of careers advice to Maori and Pacific peoples will require short and medium term initiatives. In terms of the former, my colleagues and I will be considering proposals to develop careers awareness in Years 7 and 8 school students so as to influence the greatest number of at-risk group before formative decisions are made, and in adults in the community who will not receive careers advice through existing initiatives.

I am absolutely committed to ensuring that all school leavers have a career plan and that careers provision is strengthened in schools. This is one part of our broader commitment to ensuring both formal and informal life long learning.

Lifelong career guidance is about providing the members of our community with access to career information, advice and guidance, when they need it, and in a cost-effective manner.

Meeting this challenge will involve the two A's and the two C's:


Awareness on the part of knowing the value career planning and knowing how to get career planning services


Access for people to access quality, impartial career services in order to make good decisions. A variety of contact points are essential. Some people will get all the assistance they need through the internet. But we live in a society where the digital divide is a reality –many cannot afford the cost, or do not have the individual or familial capacity to access the internet.

Others will be able to access services through a telephone call, but as I am sure you would agree, the value added by face to face contact is such as to make this the preferred method of engaging with clients.


There needs to be capacity to deliver career services to all New Zealanders. The Government has already started to examine ways and means of building the capacity of the careers industry and I will be looking to you to play a part in this.

Closing the Gaps:

As I have already indicated, the Government is totally committed to ensuring that CIAG services are relevant to Maori, and to Pacific peoples.

Concluding remarks

The people gathered in this room this morning play a very important role in maximising peoples potential in what are, increasingly uncertain labour markets by providing career information, advice and guidance.

You are positioned on the front-line, and your role will become increasingly important as more and more people require expert assistance to manage complex work and life opportunities. You are in the front-line, positioned between clients, and an increasingly internationalised economy.

Career planning in this environment requires individuals with a preparedness to work in a number of jobs throughout their working life.

It requires a focus on the acquisition of portable skills, including generic skills, rather than a narrow range of job-specific skills.

It requires a commitment to life-long learning, hand in hand with which goes life-long career guidance.

It requires a regular assessment of existing careers and skills to ensure employability in a knowledge society.

You know that the provision of careers information and guidance does have the potential to change lives for the better.

Because we are a Government committed to nurturing human capability and to addressing the causes and consequence of social exclusion - in its various manifestations – we are committed to working with you in a partnership.

It will be a partnership that will be about developing new and innovative policies, and ensuring the effective implementation of those policies on the ground.

The future of careers and learning services is in our hands, in a very direct and immediate sense in yours, and from the point of developing and implementing sound public policy in mine. I hope that in partnership we really can help people to realise their potential, to grow our economy and, and be part of something special.


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